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2020 Staff Picks: Thrillers, Suspense, and Mysteries

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

    2020 by Anappara, Deepa

    The story of children disappearing from a slum neighborhood in India doesn't sound like something most folks would want to read during the time of COVID-19, yet I found it inspiring and uplifting, mainly because of the neighborhood characters and sense of community. There was much resilience and hope despite the heartbreak of the story line. Recommended by Mary S.

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  • The Guest List

    2020 by Foley, Lucy

    I loved the atmosphere and the way the author built suspense. It's set on an island off the western coast of Ireland, where wedding guests are arriving the day before the event. Foley does a great job of pacing the action slowly to build suspense at the right level, and the setting of the remote island only works in her favor. The author takes full advantage of this secluded setting to really amp up the thrills. Recommended by Cecilia.

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  • Squeeze Me

    2020 by Hiaasen, Carl

    Hiaasen always has been one of my favorite mystery authors and I was saddened after I heard his only brother, Rob, was killed in the mass shooting at the Annapolis Capital Gazette in 2018. Because of this tragedy, Hiaasen took time off, so I was anxious to read this return. I was not disappointed. I think this is one of his best, if not the best of his adult novels. It's biting and topical (COVID-19 and the pandemic play a part, as does the current political landscape). It's harsh and brash and tons of fun. Excellent work from a comic genius! Recommended by Cecilia.

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  • Moonflower Murders

    2020 by Horowitz, Anthony

    One of my favorite mystery authors of late, Horowitz does not disappoint with this fast-paced book. As with his last few mysteries, he always uses unique elements to tell his tale, this time being a book within a book. The rewards of both stories intertwine and are so worth the effort. Loved it. Recommended by Cecilia.

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  • These Violent Delights

    2020 by Nemerever, Micah

    This book starts out like The Secret History, continues like Crime and Punishment, and ends like The Talented Mr. Ripley while owing a debt to the real-life Leopold and Loeb murders. If you’re in the mood for unrelenting dark suspense mixed with angsty romance between two too-smart-for-their-own-good teen boys, this is the book for you. Recommended by Steven.

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  • The Aosawa Murders

    2020 by Onda, Riku

    This unconventional literary mystery is haunting in style, substance, and effect as its author indirectly probes a shocking mass murder through the piecemeal memories of those touched by it. Rare for a mystery novel, it would be an excellent discussion book. Recommended by Steven.

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  • The Eighth Detective

    2020 by Pavesi, Alex

    Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s brilliant homage Magpie Murders will enjoy this equally clever novel that’s wrapped around a collection of mystery short stories, each exhibiting some fundamental principle of detective fiction. Like Horowitz, Alex Pavesi dares to emulate Agatha Christie at her own game and actually pulls it off. Recommended by Steven.

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  • The Red Right Hand

    2020 by Rogers, Joel Townsley

    I can see why this reissued classic from 1945 appears on lists of all-time best mystery novels. It dashes along at a brisk clip, full of twists and surprises, while describing an increasingly baffling crime and its immediate aftermath. Mysteries seldom throw me for a loop, but this one did. Recommended by Steven.

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  • The Talented Miss Farwell

    2020 by Tedrowe, Emily Gray

    I love complicated main characters, and Miss Farwell is as complicated as they come! I loved how the author skillfully made us care about a selfish, egotistical person. Becky/Reba was an amazing character and I am ashamed to admit I was rooting for her. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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